An 18-year-old senior in New Jersey is now suing her parents for immediate financial support and trying to force them to pay for her college education. Rachel Canning, the daughter of a retired Lincoln Park police chief, is living with the family of her best friend. The teen had it declared in court that she is nonemancipated and dependent on her parents financially.
Sean and Elizabeth Canning, Rachel’s parents, have not paid an $5,306 Morris Catholic tuition bill, and Rachel’s suit wants them to be pay the bill, pay her living and transportation expenses, and create a college fund for her. Rachel states in her court papers, “My parents have rationalized their actions by blaming me for not following their rules. They stopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school and me and have redirected my college fund, indicating their refusal to afford me an education as a punishment.”
But her father contended that Rachel left voluntarily, saying, “We love our child and miss her. This is terrible. It’s killing me and my wife. We have a child we want home. We’re not Draconian and now we’re getting hauled into court. She’s demanding that we pay her bills but she doesn’t want to live at home and she’s saying, ‘I don’t want to live under your rules.’ “
Canning added that his daughter left home because she wouldn’t follow the house rules, including respectful behavior, obeying the curfew, returning “borrowed” items to her two sisters, doing a few chores, and thinking seriously about cutting off a boyfriend her parents has a bad influence on her. Sean Canning concluded, “We’re heartbroken, but what do you do when a child says ‘I don’t want your rules but I want everything under the sun and you to pay for it?’ ” He also stated that Rachel’s college fund is available to her.
Rachel has been living with the family of her best friend Jaime Inglesino. His father is attorney and former Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino, who is funding Rachel’s case.
Rachel Canning told the court that her parents jointly decided on Oct. 29, 2013 that as of Nov. 1, when she turned 18, she would be separated “from all support both financially and emotionally.” She said Morris Catholic advised her not to return home and contacted the state Division of Child Protection and Permanency (known as DCP&P and formerly as DYFS) because Rachel alleged her parents abused her. Morris Catholic President Michael St. Pierre acknowledged that the school did call DCP&P.
Sean Canning said that a DCP&P representative visited his home last fall, decided nothing abusive had happened, and felt Rachel was “spoiled,” concluding the a the investigation.
Rachel, an excellent student and a cheerleader, has already been accepted at the University of Vermont, William Paterson University, Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., Wells College in Aurora, N.Y. Wells has offered a scholarship worth $20,000 a year.
Attorney Laurie Rush-Masuret, who represents the parents, joined Sean Canning in stating that Rachel was seeing a therapist before she left home and was supposed to take medication. The Cannings also said Rachel, was suspended twice from school, ignored the home curfew and bullied her younger sister. Rush-Masuret wrote to the court, “Mr. and Mrs. Canning did not tell Rachel to move out; rather they advised her that she is welcome home so long as she abides by their rules under their roof, which is completely reasonable. However, Rachel decided that she does not want to live within her parents’ sphere of influence and voluntarily moved out, essentially emancipating herself. Obviously, she cannot decide she will no longer live within her parents’ sphere of influence and simultaneously seek payment from them for support. “
John Inglesino wrote the court that he and his wife, Amy, believe Rachel is “emotionally distraught by her parents’ sudden rejection of her….” He added,
“Rachel is likeable, communicates exceptionally well and is highly motivated to attend and excel at a college appropriate for her. That is why my wife and I have decided to fund this lawsuit. We know that if Mr. and Mrs. Canning are not required to fulfill their legal obligations as parents, that Rachel’s ability to fulfill her potential will be greatly diminished.”